By Mike Hornick, The Packer
February 26, 2011 -- SALINAS, Calif. — John D’Arrigo, president of D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, has received the Natividad Medical Foundation’s fourth annual Hero award in Salinas.
The award honors his philanthropic work and that of The Agricultural Leadership Council on behalf of Natividad Medical Center.
The council offered its own award, handing a $201,000 check to the hospital at a Feb. 25 reception. TALC – formed just over a year ago at D’Arrigo’s initiative – now counts 75 businesses among its members, including all of Salinas’ major grower-shippers.
Joe Pezzini, chief operating officer for Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist Farms, joined D’Arrigo and others in presenting the donation to foundation president Linda Ford.
Prior TALC donations bought new medical equipment for a neonatal intensive care unit, among other hospital services.
“John D’Arrigo gets as excited about neonatal as he does about Andy Boy,” Royal Rose LLC president and Salinas mayor Dennis Donohue joked as he introduced him.
TALC’s creation was all but inadvertent, D’Arrigo said, arising out of a hospital tour he took with no plans in mind.
“They’re certainly not here for the money,” he said, referring to doctors and nurses he met that day. “They were so driven by service to others I thought, ‘Wow, I should get off my butt and do something about it.’” So D’Arrigo started calling his competitors.
“Someone needed to try to put this together,” he said. “We need this hospital desperately.”
About 80% to 90% of Natividad Medical Center clients come from farm worker families or have other ties to agriculture, D’Arrigo said. Operated by Monterey County, it’s one of California’s 15 public safety-net hospitals. NMC is celebrating its 125th anniversary.
The latest gift follows December donations of $150,000 by D’Arrigo Bros. Co. and $100,000 by board chairman Andrew D’Arrigo and his wife Phyllis. Construction of a D’Arrigo Family Specialty Services unit is set for completion by September, and will allow patient visits to grow from an annual 18,000 to more than 32,000.
“That will be a highly visible service,” NMC chief executive officer Harry Weis said.
Prior recipients of the Hero award were Andrew and Phyllis D’Arrigo; the Barnet J. Segal Charitable Trust; and Dr. Valerie Barnes, the hospital’s director of pediatric services.
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